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'Mobile Food Courts' Headed to Downtown

By Eric Richardson
Published: Monday, February 08, 2010, at 12:17PM
more than tacos Ed Fuentes

Patrons crowd around food trucks parked on Spring street during the January Downtown Art Walk.

A trio of food trucks will act as guinea pigs for Downtown's first mobile food court this Thursday, making an eatery out of a loading dock at Alameda and Traction.

The lot could be the first of many for Downtown. Matt Geller, Vice President of SoCal Mobile Food Vendors Association and the man organizing Thursday's launch, is currently working with the Downtown Art Walk to secure private truck spaces on the outskirts of the popular monthly event.

Geller expects that program to launch in March. Getting the trucks off the street and away from the center of Art Walk would help reduce congestion in the center of the event, a problem that has caught the eye of LAPD and event organizers. Tom Gilmore, owner of the Old Bank District properties, has secured "No Parking" rules in recent months that have removed the trucks from the popular stretch of Main between 4th and 6th.

Thursday's Arts District lot will kick off during an Art Walk, but Geller isn't sure exactly how much connection the spot will have to the event, which takes place in the Historic Core.

The loading dock is owned by Robert Arranaga & Co, which has a wholesale grocery warehouse on the site. The company contacted Geller about bringing the trucks in. "They love the food trucks," said Geller. "They probably wanted some more lunch options."

Who else beside employees on-site will be visiting remains to be seen. "I don't know if this is going to be a prime location," said Geller. "It's all just sort of wild-eyed guessing at this point."

One mid-day stop at nearby Wurstkuche is enough to prove that workers from City Hall will make the Arts District trek if the food is right.

While on the east edge of Downtown, the site is actually well-served by transit. The DASH A stops not far away near 3rd and Traction, and picks back up at 3rd and Alameda. The site is also just a quick walk away from the Gold Line Eastside Extension's new Little Tokyo / Arts District station.

Transit might be a wise way to reach the site. Geller's mention of "ample parking" to the L.A. Times last week drew chuckles from some Arts District residents, who have seen parking become much tougher in recent years as housing and nightlife have expanded. Geller said that a lot owned by the property owner may be made available going forward.

A Venice native, Geller has enjoyed getting acquainted with all that is now going on in the central city. He praised new Art Walk Executive Director Jay Lopez, but held out particular thanks for officers at LAPD's Central Division. "I couldn't have done the things I'm trying to do Downtown without their support and help," he said.

Food Truck Lot / 216 S. Alameda / Thursday, February 11: Lunch and Dinner; Friday: Lunch; Saturday: Dinner

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